Japan Wins First-Ever Free Routine Combo Synchro Event

BARCELONA, July 16. JAPAN won the first-ever World Championship competition in free routine combination synchronized swimming.

The Japanese team of Juri Tatsumi, Emiko Suzuki, Yoko Yoneda, Saho Harada, Michiyo Fujimaru, Naoko Kawashima, Chiaki Watanabe and Kanako Kitao scored 98.500 points to win easily over the US and Spanishh teams, which tied for second with 97.333 points.

Until today, three events were part of the synchro program in the major competitions: solo, duet and team. The new free routine combination event was approved in the FINA Congress of Fukuoka.

Developed by Sisto Salera, FINA A-Judge, the idea is to combine the existing three events in a single one, where all the 10 elements of the team can perform. Since 1996, when it was introduced at the Swiss Open Championships, the idea started to spread worldwide and some top countries in synchronized swimming started to practice it: Canada, USA, France, Spain, Japan and China.

Its first international appearance happened in the 8th FINA Junior Synchronised Swimming World Championships held in Montreal (CAN) from August 15-18, 2002. Nine teams participated in the event and Japan will stay in the history books as the first winner of the free routine combination in a FINA competition.

"The idea was to create something attractive for the public and easy to understand. Therefore, the winner is known after one session, thus facilitating the work of TV and media", declares Stefanie Haeberli, chairman of the FINA Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee (TSSC).

How it works
The rules are quite simple: as the name suggests, it is a free combination of solo, duet and team into a five minutes performance. Each federation is allowed to enter one team and the result of the session counts 100% for the final note.

Thanks to these characteristics, a new dimension in choreography is achieved by combining the events and making surprising transitions. The athletes are more powerful because their time of performing is shorter than in other routines. On the other hand, it shows the strength of a synchro team in all aspects and in some national championships reduces the competition time.

1. Japan 98.500
(Juri Tatsumi, Emiko Suzuki, Yoko Yoneda, Saho Harada, Michiyo Fujimaru, Naoko Kawashima, Chiaki Watanabe, Kanako Kitao)

2. United States 97.333
(Anna Kozlova, Alison Bartoski, Lauren McFall, Sara Lowe, Katie Norris, Becky Jasontek, Stephanie Nesbitt, Kendra Zanotto, Erin Dobratz, Mary Hofer)

3. Spain 97.333
(Gemma Mengual, Paola Tirados, Alicia Sanz, Saray Ione Serrano, Raquel Corral, Irina Rodriguez, Andrea Fuentes, Tina Fuentes, Ana Montero, Gisela Moron)

4. Canada 96.000
5. China 93.833
6. Ukraine 93.500
7. Italy 93.333
8. France 92.667
9. Greece 92.000
10. Switzerland 91.333
11. Venezuela 83.000
12. Germany 82.667